August 1, 2013

The crisis in Syria continues to inflict great suffering on the population. The situation in Aleppo, a heavily Armenian populated city, is very serious. There is a shortage of basic needs including food, fuel, medical services, and medications.
Please help us continue our humanitarian aid of food, water, and medicine without interruption.
Make a donation to the Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief. Donations can be made on-line (see below) or can be mailed to the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016.
The Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief is a joint effort of: Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern Prelacy); Armenian Catholic Eparchy; Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Armenian Relief Society (Eastern USA, Inc.); Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Archbishop Oshagan traveled to St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts, on Monday, where he met with the parish’s leaders and Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian, who has been called to serve as the parish’s new pastor.
Der Stephan, pastor of St. Gregory Church in Granite City, Illinois, for the past five years, will celebrate his final Divine Liturgy in Granite City on Sunday, August 11. Following the Liturgy, the parish is hosting a farewell luncheon and concert to express good wishes to Der Hayr, Yeretzgin Alice, and their two sons, two-year old Nishan and three-month old Hovhaness.
Der Stephan will celebrate his first Divine Liturgy as pastor of the North Andover parish on Sunday, August 25. The Prelate and Executive Council extend their heartfelt best wishes to Der Hayr and his family.
To read a feature article by Tom Vartabedian click here.
Archbishop Oshagan and Rev. Fr. Stephan Baljian met with the leadership of the St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley in North Andover, Massachusetts, on Monday, July 29.
Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Camp Haiastan in Franklin, Massachusetts, this Sunday, August 4, where he will preside over the Blessing of Grapes and Madagh at the annual St. Stephen’s Church (Watertown) picnic.

The Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) is sponsoring a seminar for teachers on Saturday, September 7, 2013, at the Prelacy headquarters in Manhattan. All schools and teachers are invited to participate. Several lectures and an open discussion are scheduled. To view the program, click here.

Sixty-eight teenagers from 10 parishes, along with 20 clergymen and lay leaders, gathered at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, for the 27th annual St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program, from June 30—July 7, 2013, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, the Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.
The following impressions echo the sentiments expressed by many participants: “The balance of learning how to be a better Christian and meeting new people is great” (Aleen Takvorian, 1st year student); “meeting new Armenian teenagers, learning about my faith and my Armenian heritage means a lot to me. I love Datev and can’t wait till I return next year” (Maralle Arakelian, 2nd year student); “I am blessed that I had the opportunity to join the Datev Institute” (Peter Baghdadlian, 3rd year student); “Datev is something that I look forward to every year” (Armand Charkhutian, 3rd year student).
This year’s Datev Institute took place with the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Ica Kouyoumdjian of Holmdel, New Jersey. Their substantial donation made it possible to maintain the Institute’s high level of education in the Armenian Christian faith and heritage.
Sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the Summer Program offers a unique opportunity for youth ages 13-18 to enhance their knowledge of the Christian faith, as well as better understand its distinctive expression in the Armenian Church tradition through her feasts, worship, and sacraments. Worship, discipleship, friendship—these three elements, motto of the Institute, structure the communal life of the program. The curriculum of the Institute is designed to be completed in four weeks (one week each summer). Those who complete the four-week program have the option to return for postgraduate classes. The classes for all five levels take place concurrently, about twenty-five 50-minute sessions for each level.
Every day the students participated in morning and evening services, attended 5 or 6 hours of lectures, Bible studies and open discussions, and in the afternoon enjoyed recreational activities such as volleyball, soccer, and swimming. 
To read the full report click here.
The Institute was privileged to have three prominent scholars as guest lecturers: Fr. Paul Tarazi, Professor of Biblical Studies and Languages at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, S. Peter Cowe, Professor of Armenian Studies at UCLA, and Siobhan Nash-Marshall, Professor of Philosophy at Manhattanville College.
Bible readings for Sunday, August 4, Fifth Sunday of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, are Isaiah 62:1-11; 2 Timothy 2:15-19; John 6:39-47.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:15-19)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Saturday, August 3, the Armenian Church commemorates St. Gregory the Theologian, also known as Gregory of Nazianzus, who is considered to be one of the four great doctors of the church during the 4th century, along with Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Athanasius the Great. He is noted for being an accomplished and eloquent speaker. He is also known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers, along with Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. Some of his sermons and poetry have survived, largely due to his great-nephew, Nichobulos, who preserved and edited his writings.
His Holiness Aram I, along with five members of the construction projects committee, met with the architects Raffi and Viken Tarkhanian, and inspected the site and progress of Genocide Memorial Museum at the Birds Nest Home for Orphans near Byblos, Lebanon.
The Bird’s Nest Orphanage was established by Danish Missionaries, through the initiatives of a young nurse, still in her early 20s, Maria Jacobsen, who devoted her entire life to the Armenian orphans. Thousands of orphaned Armenian children called her “Mama.” The museum will be in the old historic Birds Nest building and is expected to be completed by 2015. The museum will tell the story of the orphans and their tragic history of survival. After Maria Jacobsen’s death in 1960, Danish missionaries kept the orphanage open. In 1970 the Bird’s Nest was transferred to the care of the Holy See of Cilicia. It continues to care for needy children.
His Holiness once again requested that any historic artifacts relating to the Birds Nest, be offered for display in the museum. These could be items such as books, copybooks and other learning material; school uniforms; photographs; diaries, letters, essay or poem written by the students; handiwork made by the children, or any other pertinent artifacts. Inquiries can be made to the Birds Nest by phone (+961 (0) 9 540 867; fax (+961 (0) 9 540 027; or email (
Prepared by the Armenian  National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of Gurgen Mahari (August 1, 1903)
Modern Armenian literature had three major enemies: tuberculosis, Turkish genocide, and Stalinist repression. The so-called “second April 24” harvested the lives of many remarkable Armenian intellectuals and public figures between 1936 and 1938, who were shot, died in prison, or in exile. Many others suffered short or long years in prison, labor camps, internal exile, and were fortunate enough to survive until the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin when they returned.
Poet and novelist Gurgen Mahari (Ajemian) was born in Van. His father, Krikor Ajemian, was an important member of the Armenagan Party (the first Armenian political party, founded in Van in 1885). Mahari became an orphan in 1907, when his father was shot by his brother-in-law, an A.R.F. member, in a confusing incident. In 1915, after the heroic self-defense of Van during the genocide, the future writer migrated to Eastern Armenia with his family. They lost each other on the road of exile, and Mahari lived in orphanages in Dilijan and Yerevan until he found his family again.
He published his first poems in the press during the first republic, and later, in the Soviet period, he studied at Yerevan State University. He published five collections of poetry and short stories between 1924 and 1931, but his fame in the 1930s was cemented by the first two books of his biographical trilogy, “Childhood” and “Adolescence” (1930). Meanwhile, he had married and had a son. He became a member of the Writers Union of Armenia in 1934.
The wave of repression unleashed in Armenia after the assassination of Aghasi Khanjian in 1936 reached Mahari too. Trumped-up charges were brought against him and he was condemned to a ten-year exile from 1936-1946 in Siberia. After returning to Yerevan, in 1948 he was condemned, through new trumped-up charges, to life exile. In Siberia, he met Lithuanian student Antonina Povilaitite, who had also been condemned to life exile. They married and lived with the hope of change. Stalin died in 1953, and Mahari and his wife, together with their newly-born daughter, managed to return to Yerevan in 1954. Their daughter would die shortly thereafter, and they would later have a son.
After seventeen years of exile, the writer returned to his homeland in bad health, but with the inner strength to continue his writing. He became one of the leading voices in the literary life of Armenia during the 1950s and 1960s. He published the third part of his trilogy, “On the Eve of Youth” (1956), a volume of poetry in 1959 and a collection of short stories, “The Voice of Silence” (1962), where he reflected the Siberian years.  Another Siberian memoir, “Barbed Wire in Flower,” was first published posthumously in the weekly “Nayiri” of Beirut (1971); it was published in Yerevan only in 1988. He received the title of Emeritus Cultural Activist of Armenia in 1965.
Mahari published his most important book, the novel “Burning Orchards,” in 1966 (there is a translation in English), an account of Armenian life in Van before World War I, during the self-defense of the city, and afterwards. It created a lively controversy because of some of his views, and he was forced to rewrite it; the second version was published in 1979 in a curtailed form. The final edition was only published in 2004, edited by Grigor Achemyan, Mahari’s eldest son, who has published several unpublished volumes and has prepared an edition of unpublished works in thirteen volumes.
Gurgen Mahari passed away in Palanga (Lithuania), on June 17, 1969, and was buried in Yerevan. He concluded one of his autobiographical works with a characteristic paragraph: “[If] the terrible and omnipotent Jehovah entered this moment, sat in front of me, lit a cigarette and said: ‘I’m giving you a second life; trace the path of your second life from cradle to tomb, as you wish, and your wish will be accomplished . . . How would you like to live?,’ I would answer him, without hesitation: ‘Exactly as I lived it.’
Note: Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” can be read on the Prelacy’s web site (
Prepared by the Armenian  National Education Committee (ANEC)
Two Is Company
When you say, “We have company tonight,” one of the implications might be that one or more people are expected for dinner. (You’re Armenian; you can’t just serve coffee!). In this context, since you are having guests, you would express it in Armenian as «Այս գիշեր հիւր ունինք» (Ays kisher hyoor oonink). Otherwise, you would have used the word ընկերութիւն (ungerootyoon), and coined the phrase «Այս գիշեր ընկերութիւն ունինք», which sounds utterly un-Armenian.
The funny thing is that, when you use the word “company” in English in this context, you may be referring to the original meaning of the word (the actual meaning shifted over time). “Company” has been said to have its ultimate origin in the Late Latin word companio, “bread-fellow,” from companis (com “with,” panis “bread”; the Latin word entered English through Old French compainie). So, in the end, tonight’s company would necessarily mean making dinner!
Now, it is even funnier that the Armenian word ungerootyoon implies, etymologically, the exact same thing: “bread-fellowship.” Its root, the frequently-used ընկեր (unger), is actually a compound word, ընդ (unt) + կեր (ger), which etymologically means “[those] who eat together”; over time, the word * ընդկեր (untger) lost the դ (t) letter and also changed its meaning. This happened before the fifth century A.D., since the word already appeared in the Armenian translation of the Bible in its current form and meaning of “companion, friend.” (The word ընդ was a very ubiquitous term in Classical Armenian: it had more or less twenty different meanings, including “instead of,” “with, “though,” “between,” “against,” “below.” It is a cognate –has common origin—with the Greek anti “against” and the Latin ante “before,” which we use widely in everyday English.) Today, unger means a variety of things, according to its context: “companion,” “comrade,” “friend,” “partner,” “mate.” The suffix –ուհի (oohi) adds the feminine dimension to these words—for instance, ընկերուհի (ungeroohi “girlfriend”)—while the suffixes –ական (agan) and –ային (ayin) bring the adjectives “comradely” or “friendly” (ընկերական, ungeragan), as well as “social” (ընկերային, ungerayin). If you attach the suffix –ութիւն (ootyoon), you obtain the abovementioned word ընկերութիւն (ungerootyoon), which means “companionship,” “camaraderie,” “friendship,” “partnership,” but also “company” and “society.” There is a gallery of derived and compound words formed with unger at its core.
But the enigma remains: How come both the Armenian ընկեր (unger) and the English companion have the same original meaning? The possible answer is again in the Latin language. Bread was an essential staple in the diet of Roman soldiers, who apparently carried grain and made their own bread. Famous French linguist Antoine Meillet (1865-1936) suggested that companio went with Roman soldiers to Armenia, where there were Roman military permanent garrisons during some periods of the first and second centuries A.D., and became the model for the formation of our word ընկեր. If this was the case (this may have happened before the invention of Armenian writing), ger “food” never meant “bread,” but until today bread plays such a role in the Armenian diet, that it is common to hear the expression հաց ուտել (hats oodel, “to eat bread”) with the meaning “to eat food,” instead of ճաշ ուտել (jash oodel) or կերակուր ուտել (geragoor oodel).
To view previous entries in this series, click here.
Avedis Zildjian III, in front of the factory of the family business in 1929, when it was moved to Quincy, Massachusetts. The business was first established 390 years ago in the Ottoman Empire. (Photo from Aramco World, September/October, 2012).
This year marks the 390th anniversary of the establishment of the Zildjian Company, noted worldwide for its extraordinary cymbals. In the early 1600s, an Armenian metal-smith in the Ottoman Empire, named Avedis, lived and worked in the sultan’s palace. In the hey-day of the Ottoman Mehter bands, Avedis developed a way to make bronze cymbals stronger, thinner and with a great sound. The sultan was so impressed that he gave him the title, “Zildji” (cymbal-smith).
In 1623 he was released from government service and he established his own company making cymbals for bands and for the Greek and Armenian churches. In 1929, his descendants moved the business to Massachusetts where they continued the tradition of making the best cymbals, utilizing the original secret method developed by Avedis nearly four centuries ago. Even during the Great Depression the company thrived, making cymbals for the popular era of jazz and swing. Today, Zildjian remains the world’s leading cymbal maker. It is also believed to be the oldest family-owned and operated business with the 14th generation of the original “Zildji” currently at the helm.
When the Beatles made their U.S. debut on the Ed Sullivan television show in 1964, Ringo Starr played Zildjian cymbals. Orders for 90,000 cymbals were received as a result of that appearance.
August 4—Annual picnic of St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, at Camp Haiastan, 722 Summer Street, Franklin, Massachusetts 02038. Delicious food, music and more from 12 noon to 5 pm. For information, 617-924-7562, visit online at or on Facebook.
August 11—Farewell luncheon and Program for Der Stephan and Yeretzgin Alice Baljian and Family, following the Divine Liturgy. His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian will preside. A recital featuring Dan Vizer, organist, will begin at 2 pm in the church. Please come and wish Der Hayr and Yeretzgin well as they transition to their new parish. For information: Lynne Hagopian (618) 452-0192; Sue Spataro (618) 223-1502.
August 11—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Picnic at Camp Haiastan from noon to 6 pm. Blessing of Madagh and Grapes will take place at 3:30 pm with His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan presiding and with the participation of the pastors of the New England area churches. Enjoy delicious shish, losh, and chicken kebab dinners, Armenian pastry, and our famous choreg. Music by the Michael Gregian Ensemble. Our patrons may use the Lower Camp Pool, Basketball Courts, and Canoes from 1 to 4 pm. Activities for children. Come and enjoy a day with friends and family.
August 11—Annual Church Picnic and Blessing of Grapes at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, 635 Grove Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. Join us for a fun-filled day and enjoy delicious food, music by DJ Shaheen, backgammon tournament, children’s activities and more. Begins at noon. Blessing of Grapes at 2:45 pm. Admission is free. For more information: or 508-852-2414.
August 16, 17, 18—Armenian Fest and Blessing of the Grapes, All Saints Armenian Church, 1701 N. Greenwood, Glenview, Illinois. For information: 847-998-1989.
August 18—Annual Picnic of Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, 12 noon on the church grounds, 315 Church Street, Whitinsville, immediately following the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian who will also officiate the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony with the participation of New England clergy. Delicious Armenian food, homemade baked goods. Listen and dance to traditional live Armenian music by the Mugrditchian Band. For information: 508-234-3677.
August 18—St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Blessing of the Grapes and Family Fun Picnic, at Lakeshore Park, 601 South Lake Drive, Novi, Michigan. Food, music, dancing, magic show, volleyball, soccer, tavlou tournament, mountain biking, swimming.
August 18—Sts. Vartanantz Church, New Jersey, Annual Picnic and Blessing of the Grapes, 1-5 pm at Saddle River County Parki, Wild Duck Pond area. Music, delicious Armenian food and desserts, arts and crafts and playground for children, cards, and tavloo, and more.
August 18—Assumption of the Holy Mother of God and Annual “Blessing of the Grapes” picnic following the Divine Liturgy at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Granite City, Illinois; 12 Noon-3:30 pm. Blessing of Grapes will take place at 11:45 am. Tasty shish kebab and chicken kebab dinners will be sold. Armenian breads and pastries along with other delicacies will be for sale. Armenian dancing and activities for children of all ages. Free admission.
September 5 to October 3—“A Brief Introduction to Modern Armenian Literature,” a series of five seminars presented on Thursdays, 7 pm to 8:30 pm, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City. Sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) and the Cathedral. Presented by Vartan Matiossian, Ph.D.
September 7—Teachers’ Seminar sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) at the Prelacy offices, 138 E. 39th Street, New York City, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Details will follow.
September 8—Picnic Festival, St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, 12:30 to 5:30 pm, featuring Armenian music by Leon Janikian, Jason Naroian, Joe Kouyoumjian, John Arzigian, along with Siroun Dance Group. Armenian food and pastries. For details
September 15—Book Presentation at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York, of “One Church One Nation” by Hrair Hawk Khatcherian.
September 21—St. Illuminator’s Cathedral’s “Huyser” Music Ensemble presents “The Sound of Freedom,” a celebration of independence, at the Frank Sinatra School of Arts, Tony Bennett Concert Hall, 35-12 35th Avenue, Astoria, New York, at 7:30 pm. Tickets $25—$35. For information: 212-689-5880.
October 5—Symposium “Armenian Women as Artists and Mothers,” 2-6 pm, sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) at St. Illuminator Cathedral Pashalian Hall, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, in celebration of the Year of the Mother of the Armenian Family. Lecturers: Jennifer Manoukian (Columbia University), “Zabel Yessayan: Mother and Activist,”; Vartan Matiossian (ANEC), “Armen Ohanian: An Armenian Woman of the World,” and Melissa Bilal (Columbia University), “Lullabies and Tears: On Armenian Grandmothers and Granddaughters in Istanbul.”
October 19—Armenian Friends of America presents “Hye Kef 5” featuring musicians Leon Janikian, Joe Kouyoumjian, Greg Takvorian, Ken Kalajian, Ron Raphaelian, and Jay Baronian, 7:30-12:30, Michael’s Function Hall, 12 Alpha Street, Haverhill, Massachusetts. Proceeds to benefit all Armenian churches in Merrimack Valley and New Hampshire. Tickets: $40 adults; $30 students; includes individually-served mezza platters. For information/reservations: John Arzigian 603-560-3826; Sandy Boroyan 978-251-8687; Scott Sahagian 617-699-3581; Peter Gulezian 978-375-1616.
October 27—90th anniversary celebration of St. Gregory Church, Philadelphia, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate. Immediately after the Divine Liturgy at the church’s Founders Hall, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19128. 
November 1 & 2—St. Stephen’s Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 57th Armenian Bazaar, 10 am to 9:30 pm, at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown. Delicious meals (take-out available), Armenian pastries, Arts and Crafts, Books, Raffles, Attic Treasures, Auctions, and more. For information: 617-924-7562.
November 15-16-17—Annual Bazaar, Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey.
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